When Texas Rangers and city of Arlington officials agreed in May to build a retractable-roof stadium to replace the still-beautiful ballpark the team plays in today, the Twitter handle @MLBcathedrals posted a clever image of the stadium being airlifted to either Oakland or Tampa Bay.
You know, cities that actually need a new ballpark.
Globe Life Park, as it’s known now, the retro-styled, infinitely detailed stadium opened in 1994, has undergone millions of dollars in improvements the last few years. Despite sometimes doubling as the world’s largest outdoor sauna, it remains quite the baseball jewel.
“The ballpark in my mind, and in my heart,” said its architect, David M. Schwarz, “has worn very well.”
Unfortunately for this grand, not-so-old ballpark, a perfect storm is conspiring to tear it down long before its time. To ensure the Rangers don’t get lured to Dallas in coming years, Arlington officials hastily asked club co-owner Ray Davis to make one wish. So he did. A stadium with a roof and air-conditioning — pronto — he said, and the Rangers will be yours forever.
In November, the genies, or good citizens, of Arlington will go to the polls and almost assuredly grant his wish. The new stadium could be open by 2021.
Justin Newhart, the preservation program director for Historic Fort Worth Inc., cautions that fans might not find a similar level of detail and authenticity in the new building that was meticulously applied to the current structure, one some fans have called a temple.
“I think the time period and the style the Rangers’ ballpark was built in was probably the last great era for ballpark architecture,” Newhart said. “After that, it’s kind of tailed-off. Like what the Braves are building in Atlanta; they’re building this giant, corporate ballpark and you don’t get the same attention to detail and style that you did with the Rangers’ ballpark or the ballpark in Houston [Minute Maid Park], or even Turner Field in Atlanta.
“They’ve become these very generic development projects and architectural projects that you wouldn’t have seen 25 or 30 years ago.”
Each May, Historic Fort Worth Inc., releases its Most Endangered Places list. It includes important buildings and structures in Fort Worth as part of National Preservation Month. The list is designed to increase awareness of historic places and sites that have been neglected and are in jeopardy of being demolished and lost for good. The list has helped save many buildings.
“When you get the preservation bug,” Newhart said, “it doesn’t go away.”
With the exception of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, America’s pastime seems to have lost the preservation bug.
Globe Life Park certainly hasn’t been neglected, in fact quite the opposite in recent years, and so who could have imagined it is now caught in the crosshairs of the wrecking ball?
We know the usefulness of sports venues, especially these days, very rarely outlasts the brick and mortar that built them. What if we applied Rangers ballpark logic to other significant buildings in our area? Would they too be facing premature demolition as we constantly seek bigger, better and more convenient? We have evolved into a disposable, need-it-now society.
So we decided to apply such thinking to other sports venues and significant buildings, both young and old, using the ballpark’s ill-fated timeline — 1994 to likely 2020 — to determine their fates.
American Airlines Center
Time left (using ballpark timeline): 11 years
Built to look like an airplane hangar, the home of the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks wouldn’t be around much longer. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has openly discussed a Jetsons-like high-rise stadium that overlooks Dallas. Probably just as well. Decreasing parking space is an issue for Cuban at AAC. Designed by David M. Schwarz, who brought the Rangers’ ballpark to life, the place would barely have 10 good years left, and the lease goes for 14 more years.
Time left (using ballpark timeline): 19 years
Jerry Jones’ palace, formerly known as Cowboys Stadium, took the sports world by storm with its massive steel arches and glimmering, spaceship-like exterior. Hailed as an engineering marvel and fit for athletic gods, well, things just don’t last forever. Already that giant video screen is being topped elsewhere, and pretty soon Jones will itch for a bigger and better home for his mediocre football team. Considering the place is already headed for its eighth Cowboys season, Jones could call for a new shrine before this one’s even paid off.
Bass Performance Hall
Time left (using ballpark timeline): Eight years
Another beauty designed by Schwarz and his architectural firm, Bass Hall is closing in on its 20th anniversary as a crown jewel of the city and the centerpiece of a magnificent downtown revitalization. What if those iconic, trumpet-playing angels require the support of a structure far more sturdy by, say, 2024?
Modern Art Museum
Time left (using ballpark timeline): 12 years
This wondrous structure designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando makes the top 10 list of Ando’s most famous works compiled by designschoolsindex.com. Constructed using only concrete, steel, aluminum, glass and granite, and reflected in a surrounding pool, it’s really a shame that the shelf life of this cultural gem would be beyond the halfway point.
U.S. Post Office Downtown
Time left (using ballpark timeline): On borrowed time for 57 years
Talk about having nine lives. This historic building was set to be shut down just two years ago, perhaps converted to a new City Hall, perhaps handed over to the wrecking ball. Yet there she still stands, serving the people of Fort Worth in all its Texas limestone and classical column glory. But for dinosaurs like this, danger is always lurking.
Time left (using ballpark timeline): 13 years
Originally the octagonal-shaped 37-story tower in the heart of downtown was built for the Fort Worth National Bank. The shimmering glass beauty at one time housed the Reata restaurant on its top floor. As it approached 30 years of age, Mother Nature nearly ended it. Damage from the March 2000 tornado forced it to close in 2001 and demolition was coming its way. But when costs for demolition became too high, the building sat unused, boarded up, until a developer saved it and turned it into a condominium tower in 2003. Now 13 years later and with new life, could the clock be ticking again?